Patriots overcome miserly Irfan spell to register third win

Brandon King overcame a torturous opening spell from Mohammad Irfan to record his maiden CPL fifty, leading the St Kitts & Nevis Patriots to a six-wicket win over Barbados Tridents on Saturday evening at Kensington Oval.

Irfan claimed Chris Gayle with his first ball and snapped up Evin Lewis caught behind in his second over before making King hop around during the most economical four-over spell in the history of T20 cricket. But it was not enough to help the Barbados Tridents defend 147 as Steven Smith’s leaky leggies helped King get on track to finish with four fours and five sixes in his 60 off 49 balls. Ben Cutting and Tom Cooper took over from King in the 16th over and finished off the chase to put Patriots on six points, creating a four-way tie for first place on the CPL table.

Holding pattern

The Tridents got off to a modest start, ending the Powerplay at 34 for 0. Only three fours and a six were struck between Martin Guptill and Dwayne Smith as the pair also managed to rack up 17 dot balls in the first six overs. They fell off consecutive deliveries in the eighth over, bowled by Cutting. Guptill was sold out by Smith on a yes-no call to point as Anton Devcich threw down the stumps at the non-striker’s end. Lewis pulled off a one-handed stunner on the following ball at deep midwicket to leave the Tridents at 39 for 2.

But the wickets actually stirred the Tridents innings to life as captain Jason Holder scored his maiden CPL half-century after promoting himself to No. 3. Holder slashed his first delivery for four through third man before setting his sights on Sandeep Lamichhane in the following over, slog-sweeping the legspinner for six. Holder and Shai Hope hit Lamichhane for 17 more in the 12th over.

Holder could have been run-out for 31 in the 13th over. One ball after being tonked onto the Kensington Oval roof for six, Carlos Brathwaite had a chance to field off his own bowling on the off side, but his spin-around effort missed the stumps. Holder got another life on 38 when Cooper spilled him at long-on off Sheldon Cottrell. He brought up a 34-ball fifty with his third six whacked straight back over Brathwaite.

Devilish double

Following up his runout of Guptill, Devcich returned in the 18th over to break the 87-run Holder-Hope partnership, dismissing both men off back-to-back balls. Cooper made up for his earlier drop of Holder by clinging onto a chance at long-on to get rid of Hope for 26. Coming on strike after crossing with the ball in the air on Hope’s dismissal, Holder couldn’t get enough elevation on the next ball trying to clear Lewis at deep midwicket to put Devcich on a hat-trick.

Tridents only managed 21 runs off the final 15 balls, stuttering through the end of their innings. Holder’s promotion also meant that Steven Smith, who had scored 63 in a Man-of-the-Match effort against Jamaica Tallawahs on Wednesday night, only faced three balls against the Patriots as the batting reshuffle, arguably, backfired.

Irfan’s binary brush with perfection

The towering Pakistan fast bowler began his unbroken four-over spell with 23 dot balls. It wasn’t just that the Patriots couldn’t score off him, with the exception of the two balls edged behind by Gayle and Lewis, nobody could lay a bat on him. Irfan’s first two overs were wicket-maidens, Gayle falling to a gem that squared him up and Lewis feathering a pull through to Pooran as well, though he seemed unhappy with the decision.

King and Devon Thomas then proceeded to fan on every attempt at driving, poking, and nudging Irfan to get off strike. Nothing worked until the very last ball of Irfan’s spell, which King mishit off the toe of his bat down the ground before scampering one run. By the end of Irfan’s spell, Patriots were 18 for 2 in seven, their required run rate had climbed into double-digits with 130 needed off the final 13.

King’s ransom

The 23-year-old Jamaican was on 15 off 32 balls after nine overs, having been handcuffed by Irfan ever since entering on the second ball of the chase. But Irfan’s work was undone by Steven Smith’s 10th over. Devon Thomas, who took 14 balls himself to get off the mark, clubbed the first ball for a straight six, which was followed a wide off which King got back on strike. King followed Thomas’ lead, smacking Smith for two more sixes off the next three balls before Thomas finished a 27-run frame with another six.

The momentum-shifting over spurred King to pluck 35 runs off his next 10 balls. He singlehandedly wrecked Raymon Reifer for 22 off the 11th over to bring up a 42-ball half-century with another four smacked over cover. In the space of two overs, Patriots had plundered 49 runs and the required run rate was back to just 7.55. Thomas creamed Holder for four and six off the first two balls of the 12th and the pair ended up adding 88 for the third wicket. After a seven-over stretch where they couldn’t buy a run, suddenly the Tridents were giving them away at will and the Patriots cruised across the line with seven balls remaining.

Cricinfo

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